Ex-Army chief urges Britons to back UK protection for Afghan interpreters
More people should support a petition calling on David Cameron to give all Afghan interpreters who served alongside UK forces protection, the former head of the Army has said.
General Sir Richard Dannatt said Britain has an obligation to help interpreters who served in Afghanistan as he urged soldiers and the public to support the petition, which has already garnered more than 75,000 signatures.
If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures the plight of Afghan interpreters could be debated in Parliament.
Former interpreters last month lost a High Court battle to access a Government assistance scheme that is not available to staff who left British employment before December 2012.
The terms of the scheme means interpreters who completed their duties between 2006 and 2012 are not eligible for refuge in the UK unless they can prove they face violence from the Taliban in their home country.
In a letter sent to hundreds of former soldiers and published by the Daily Mail, Sir Richard said Britain "cannot walk away" from the interpreters.
He said: "Afghanistan interpreters went on patrols with our troops and enabled them to communicate with the local people. We could not have done the job without them.
"That's why I'm asking you to support this petition started by an Afghanistan veteran, calling for Afghan interpreters to be given protection by the British Government.
"They often wore our uniforms. If they feel once we have left their country, that they cannot assume their normal lives because of fear having worked for British forces, then it is our obligation to have them in this country.
"We cannot leave and walk away and leave them to it, we owe them far more than that."
Major James Driscoll, who launched the petition, said the Government has a moral duty to help the interpreters, who have helped save many British lives.
On the change.org petition, he said: "Hundreds of Afghan interpreters chose to help British troops fight the Taliban and risked everything doing so. I served three tours in Afghanistan, without the hard work and sacrifice of the interpreters many more British lives would have been lost.
"We owe them a debt that must be repaid. 'Moral duty' doesn't rest solely with the British soldier in Helmand, it is a British value that must be demonstrated by the Government as well.
"It is my belief that any man, who is courageous enough to fight alongside the British Army in the defence of our British values and standards, when threatened, is entitled to live under the protection of this country."